Page images

abundance of poetic imagery, though destitute of the hackneyed materials of poetry; though its groves are not vocal with the song of the nightingale ; though no naiads have ever sported in its streams, nor satyrs and dryads gamboled among it forests. Wherever nature-sweet nature-displays herself in simple beauty and wild magpificence, and wherever the human mind appears in new and striking situations, neither the poet nor the philosopher can ever want subjects worthy of his genius.

Having made such particular mention of Gertrude of Wyoming, we will barely add one or two circumstances connected with it, strongly illustrative of the literary character of the author. The story of the poem, though extremely simple, is not sufficiently developed; some of the facts, particularly in the first part, are rapidly passed over, and left rather obscure; from which many have inconsiderately pronounced the whole & hasty sketch, without perceiving the elaborate delicacy with which the parts are finished. This defect is to be attributed entirely to the self diffidence of Mr. Campo bell. It is his misfortune that he is too distrustful of himself, and too ready to listen to the opinions of inferior minds, rather than boldly follow the dictates of his own pure taste, and the impulse of his exalted imagination, which, if left to themselves, would never falter pr go wrong. Thus we are told, that when his Gertrude first came from under his pen, it was full and complete; but in an evil hour he read it to some of his critical friends, Every one knows that when a man's critical judgment is consulted, he feels bimself in credit bound to find fault. Various parts of the poem were of course objected to, and various alterations recommended.

With a fatal diffidence, which, while we admire we cannot but lament, Mr. Campbell struck out those parts entirely, and obliterated in a moment, the fruit of hours of inspiration and days of labour. But when he attempted to bind together and new-model the elegant, but mangled limbs of this virgin poem, his shy imagination revolted from the task. The glow of feeling was chilled; the creative powers of invention were exhausted; the parts therefore were slightly and imperfectly thrown together with a spiritless pen, and bence arose that apparent want of developement which occurs in some parts of the story.

Indeed we do not think the unobtrusive and if we may be allowed the word, occult merits of this poem are calculated to strike popular attention, during the present passion for dashing verse and extravagant incident.

It is mortifying to an author to observe, that those accomplishments which it has cost him the greatest pains to acquire, and which he regards with a proud eye, as the exquisite proofs of his skill, are totally lost upon the generality of readers, who are commonly captivated by those glaring qualities to which he attaches but little value. Most people are judges of exhibitions of force and activity of body, but it requires a certain refinement of taste, and a practiced eye, to estimate that gracefulness, which is the achievement of labour, and consummation of art. So in writing, what. ever is bold, glowing and garish, strikes the attention of the most careless, and is generally felt and acknowledged; but comparatively few can appreciate that modest delineation of nature, that tenderness of sentiment, propriety of language, and gracefulness of composition, that bespeak the polished and accomplished writer. Such however, as possess this deli. cacy of taste and feeling, will often return to dwell with cherishing fondness on the Gertrude of Mr. Campbell. Like all his other writings, it presents virtue in its most touching and captivating forms: whether gently exetcised in the “ bosom scenes of life,” or sublimely exerted in its extraordinary and turbulent situations. No writer can surpass Mr. C. in the vestal purity and amiable morality of his muse. While he possesses the power of firing the imagination; and filling it with sublime and awful images; he excells also in those eloquent appeals to the feelings, and those elevated flights of thought; by which, while the fancy is exalted, the heart is made better

It is now some time since he has produced any poem. Of late, he has been employed in preparing a work for the press, containing critical and biographical notices of British poets, from the reign of Edward 3rd; to the present time. However much 'we may be gratified by such a work, from so competent a judge, still we cannot but regret that he should stoop from the brilliant track of poetic invention, in which he is so calculated to soar, and descend into the lower regions of literature, to mingle with drouing critics, and mousing commentators. His task should be to produce poetry; noi to criticise it; for in our minds he does more for his own fame and for the interests of literature; who furnishes one fine verse, than he who points out a thousand beauties or detects a thousand faults.

We hope therefore, soon to behold Mr. Campbell emerging from those dusty labours, and breaking forth in the full lustre of original genlus. He oves it to his own reputation; he owes it to his own talents; he owes it to the literature of his country. Poetry has generally Aowed in an abundant stream in Great Britain ; but it is too apt to stray among rocks and weeds, to expand into brawling shallows, or waste itself in turbid and ungovernable torrents. We have, however, marked a narrow, but pute and steady channel, continuing down from the earliest ages, through a line of real poets, who seem to have been sent from heaven; to keep the vagrant stream from running at utter waste and random,' Of this chosen number, we consider Mr. Campbell, and we are happy at having this opportunity of rendering our feeble tribute of applause to a writer whom we consider as an ornament to the age, an honour to his country, and one whom his country “ should delight to honour."





It lrappened once that at a country fạir,
In spite of all the Magistrate's great care,

Some wicked spirits rais'd a dreadful fray;
With pitchforks, spades, huge cudgels and hard stones,
To work they went, and broke each other's bones,

And even drove the brave Police away:

A Justice in red passion's flame
With Posse Comitatus came.

Resolved to shew of his great power a sample ;
And by the throat a simple rústic seiz’d,
Who only at an humble distance gaz'd,

And swore by G-d he'd make him an example.
in vain before his worship Paddy fell,
Who only pitch'd his lying soul to hell ;
And for thus daring to insult the Laws,
Plac'd him within the gloomy Bridewell's jaws ;

There for his good behaviour chain'd
Poor Pat, for three long days and nights remain’d:
It happened luckily that in the town,
A young Attorney dwelt of great renown ;

Who brought home justice to each poor man's door ;
Who preach'd up that the laws were made for all,
Alikė protected both the great and smati,

And taught them points they never knew before.


Ere then poor" simple souls! they little thought
That to recover back a groat,
An action of Assumpit could be brought;
Or that to spit in a man's face
Was " trespass vi et armis” and not " case';"
Or that for lifting either hand up high,
An action of assault would lye!
"Till then, they'd rather losė a penny,
Than spend to get it back, a Guinea!
Nay more,

did any quarrel e'er arise, They ne'er an arbitration would despise,

But left it to be settled by their neighbours ,
They would not travel forty miles a journey
it in the hands of an Attorney,

And thus prevent their friends officious labours!
No, no, so little spirit
Did they, POOR souls! before that time inherit!

Paddy, whose breast with just revenge now burn'd,

To see young Capias bent his way,
Who luckily that very day

From term return'd:
He told him all the hardships of his case,
Confin'd in Bridewell! sad digrace !
Debar'd from sight of any friendly face!
What! was not liberty our greatest blessing ?
Without it life would not be worth possessing ;

And to preserve it, pray would not the laws
Give him great damages and restitution.
For such an outrage on the Constitution,

As false imprisonment, without a cause.

Young Capias on his soul averr'd,
So great an outrage he had never heard,
That he himself would be a brute,
Not to commence so just a suit;
And as for damages, there were such grounds,
As would ensure a thousand pounds;
And make the Justice sorely smart,
For acting such a vile illegal part!

Poor Pat, delighted beyond measure,
At the sweet prospect of such treasure,

Sold all his horses, cows and sheep,
To fill his kind Attorney's hand,
Who made him daily understand

A golden harvest he would shortly reap!

But stamps and fees to Lawyers were so high,
He needed now and then a small supply.

The suit commenc'd ; now Pat elate with hope,
To ev'ry mad idea gave a scope ;

Building his lofty castles in the air.
His fir'd imagination knew no bounds,
With houses, equipages, horses, hounds,

Rais'd up at once from poverty and care.

Flush'd with success, bis wild bewilder'd brain,
No kind remission, day or night could gain.

At length the day, the happy day drew near,

With all his witnesses prepar'd,

To Court he quick repair'd, The glorious verdict anxiously to hear.

In ev'ry brighten'd feature of his face,

Glad expectation took her place.
With throbbing heart, impatiently he waited ;

At length his advocate with look profound;

Hemm'd often, shook his head and gaz'd around, And then the case to Judge and Jury stated.

Ob ! 'twas a case, (tho' twenty years and more

Had pass'd since first he enter'd the profession) He'd vouch for, never was parallel'd before,

For baser treatment, or more gross oppression!

A thousand pounds would scarce repay, The feelings of his injur'd Client's mind! Unhappy wretch! for three long days confin'd!

To glut a base, oppressive Tyrant's sway!

In short, so well he stated all the case,
With declamation, action, and grimace ;


That had you this great Lawyer seen;
You'd swear in downright earnest he had beert,

At length both parties clos'd in able chargë,

The Court thought proper to enlarge ;

And tho' by some 'twas reckon'd clever,
The Jury all retir'd aś wise as ever!

After a full half bour's debating,
And keeping all the Court impatient waiting;

The Jury with a verdict in return'd;
Hush'd was each murmur, ev'ry car,
Listen'd with mark'd anxiety to hear ;

While ev'ry heart with expectation buru'd !

But lo! tho' strange it may appear to many,
The Jury gave but damages one penny !

With disappointment's rage poor Pat enflam'd,
A volley of abuse at Capias aim'd,

Who only took bis money to deceive him!
Did not the rascal say, there were sure grounds
To bring in damages a thousand pounds!

While but one penny now the Jury gave him !

Believe me, friend, young Capias cried,
I all my best eudeavours tried ;

The damages, 'tis true, are small,
And tho' in them the Justice will not pay,
I think we'll souse him in another way,

And heartily his worship mawl.

I'll tell you one thing now, my boy,
Which ought to fill your heart with joy ;
Tho' thus of his success he boasts,
The penny damages will curry costs i«

* In an action for false imprisonment the smallest damages will subject the Defendant to the whole Costs.

« PreviousContinue »